A balanced and explosive Duke squad issued what may have been a warning shot to all ACC teams this past weekend. Judging by the results, the opposition better listen carefully to the noise the Blue Devils have been making.
Competing in the VertKlasse Meeting in High Point, N.C., Duke broke three school records and recorded seven first-place finishes as it continued one of the hottest starts in program history.
“We continued to have our best start to an outdoor season certainly in the 24 years I’ve been here,” director of track and field Norm Ogilvie said. “I’m very, very impressed in that we’re a very balanced team and we’re getting contributions from all different event areas.”
Despite two first-place finishes in Friday’s events, the majority of the action happened for the Blue Devils on Saturday, highlighted by the men’s 4x400 relay. Four decathletes—Chaz Hawkins, Ian Rock, Robert Rohner and Curtis Beach—posted a time of 3:11.74 to win the race and set the school record for the day.
Hawkins and Rock got off to a strong start in the relay, running a combined split of 1:38.13, putting Duke in second place before handing it off to Rohner. Rohner gave Duke the lead, running a 47.50 split before Beach sealed the deal with a split of 46.12.
“It’s a lot of fun, especially when the last two guys who are decathletes run 47 and 46 flat,” Ogilvie said. “That is really, really good running for any quarter-mile runner.”
The Blue Devils got started with their five Saturday first-place finishes in the men’s 4x100 relay. The team of DeVon Edwards, Ryan Smith, Issac Blakeney, and Josh Snead won the event with ease, finishing almost half a second before the second place team, posting a winning time of 41.32.
It was an extremely impressive relay for a team comprised of two wide receivers and two running backs from the football team, as their time was the second fastest in school history. Their strong race set the tone for the team in its other events.
“I don’t think anyone was expecting us to win the 4x100,” Ogilvie said.
The women’s 4x100 team of Lauren Hansson, Alexis Roper, Elizabeth Kerpon and Madeline Kopp was not to be outdone by the men’s 4x100, as they too finished in first place with a time of 45.98—also the second-fastest time in the event in Duke history.
Hansson then set the second school record of the weekend for the Blue Devils, posting a time of 11.83 in the 100-meter dash, good enough for fourth place at the meet. Kerpon set the third and final school record of the meet in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.69.
Duke’s final two first place finishes came from Megan Clark in the pole vault and Austin Gamble in the men’s discus.
The Blue Devils' strong performance this weekend makes it one of their fastest starts to the season in recent years and puts them in a great position moving forward. With this weekend's solid showing behind them, Duke can set its sights on the forthcoming ACC team meet.
“We’re trying to have the highest possible finish at the ACC team meet, which is only a couple weeks away,” Ogilvie said. “We have more potential qualifiers already than maybe we were expecting, so we've raised the bar a little bit.”